'Fifty Shades' of confused by trilogy's popularity—November 2, 2012
I just finished reading the “Grey” trilogy by E.L. James. You know THOSE books: the ones millions of people are reading, but not many are talking about in public.
If I’d be reading one while waiting to be seated at the Olive Garden or at the garage in Wisconsin while the car was being repaired, I’d try to be discreet. The covers are quite recognizable and staring and curiosity could ensue. Plus I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me. Other readers seem to have the same reluctance, which explains why so many downloaded them onto their e-readers (no visible cover).
The first one I read mainly because I was curious. After all “Fifty Shades of Grey” has broken all kinds of sales records. “The Telegraph” called it ”the best-selling book of all time.” It has even outsold every individual book in the Harry Potter series. All three books : “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Fifty Shades Darker,” and “Fifty Shades Freed” broke weekly paperback sales records selling more than 100,000 copies each in seven days. This is especially astonishing for a book that started out as fan fiction.
I’d term the popularity a phenomenon or perhaps a frenzy. There’s supposedly even a “Grey” inspired baby boom, and along with book stores, companies selling familiar items from the books, such as that certain tie, have greatly profited. SNL and other comedy shows have aired risqué skits and jokes, and there numerous parodies and spinoffs such as “Fifty Shades of Chicken,” (a recipe book), and “Fifty Shades of Earl Grey,” (about tea??).
You do have to be open-minded to read a book where “happy trail” has absolutely nothing to do with Roy Rogers, where “kinky” doesn’t describe the garden hose, and where rolling your eyes can merit some extreme punishment (boy would I be in trouble). And let’s be clear, this is definitely an adult book.
So much of what had me rolling my eyes was the unrealistic events. Since this is a family newspaper, I can’t give many examples. Let me just say that even most twenty year olds don’t have that much stamina. Another question I kept pondering was would Anastasia be as likely to be “involved” with Christian if he weren’t rich? I seriously doubt it. Even good looks only get you so far.
There is, however, sort of a semblance of plot in each book. Most of the first one, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is about whether Anastasia will accept the contract, and if she will learn Christian’s secrets. There’s a bit more plot in book two “Fifty Shades Darker.” In addition to Anastasia’s attempt to normalize Christian, and also as she adapts to and enjoys his way of living, there is a subplot about an ex-sub of Christian’s who is stalking Anastasia. Book three “Fifty Shades Freed” goes even further with plot as Christian and Anastasia and their families deal with unknown threats.
There are some messages or morals you could possibly glean from this series. The main one is about the power of unconditional love. But, we aren’t talking about great or even good writing here. Most likely you won’t want to pass these books along to your grandchild; they aren’t “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Catcher in the Rye,” or even the adult romantic classic “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”
So if you too are curious, and a friend hasn’t loaned you a copy, call the library and get on the waiting list to read one or all three. The list is whittled down to under thirty patrons now, and we have several copies.
The library also has “Bared to You” and “Beautiful Disaster” that are supposed to be similar to the E. L. James trilogy, and right now there isn’t much of a wait for either of those.
Supposedly “Fifty Shades” is going to be made into a movie. There are web sites speculating on who will play the major characters. I’m wondering what the rating will be.